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“If you build it, they will come…” This mantra was true of the Field of Dreams, and now of San Diego’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.
Together with 35 of San Diego's best and biggest tech companies, Innovate78 representatives joined the San Diego Venture Group's Tacos + Tech in Silicon Valley last week. The event – appropriately held at the Computer History Museum – played host to more than 700 curious Bay Area engineers and programmers, and served to showcase the high-tech jobs and opportunities available across San Diego.
With a special focus on attracting Bay Area engineers, North County companies like ViaSat, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Verve, as well as other San Diego companies like Illumina, Dexcom, ResMed, Qualcomm, Human Longevity, Cubic, Hired and LoanHero set up shop at the job fair-like event. Company recruiters spoke to San Diego as the alternative to Northern California’s congested traffic, high cost of living, hyper-competitive workforce culture and other issues plaguing the region.
As a proud sponsor, the EDC-led economic development initiative Innovate78 represented North County at a booth, with leaders from the five cities along the 78 Corridor – Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista – at the helm. Conversations with attendees ranged from North County housing costs to the growing tech sector, to the many breweries that make up the ‘Hops Highway’ – one of the primary booths highlighting the region's lifestyle.
While many attendees admitted connection to San Diego through family, school or dream vacations, it seemed as though the region’s tech ecosystem – which employs nearly 69,000 people – has flown under the radar. Tacos + Tech provided a platform for some of San Diego County’s top employers and innovators to attract Bay Area talent through simply sharing San Diego's reality: a broad diversity of career opportunity mixed with a top-tier quality of life (and, of course, tacos and beer). For decades, San Diego has built this ecosystem, and now…the talent will most certainly come.
Tacos + Tech comes on the heels of SDVG's Beachhead launch, a coworking space for San Diego entrepreneurs working out of Silicon Valley.
For 36 hours in late September/Early October, RIMAC Arena was transformed from a sports facility, to a coliseum of creative computing. One thousand students from around California came to compete in the largest collegiate hackathon the region has to offer: SD Hacks. Teams worked to create new code, applications and programs that responded to sponsored challenges. In addition to student competition, companies like ViaSat, Qualcomm, SAIC, SPAWAR, Perkins Coie, iboss Cybersecurity, Classy, VaultRMS, Booz Allen Hamilton and the City of San Diego joined in to talk local tech opportunity and mentor student teams. When all is said and done, 1,000 prospective tech employees left the competition with a new perspective on opportunities in tech, here in San Diego.
In an age of rapidly evolving technology, it’s becoming increasingly pertinent for companies to defend themselves against cyber attacks. The cybersecurity sector seeks out the brightest minds to stay one step ahead of hackers who threaten security of some of the biggest U.S. companies like Netflix, Twitter, Spotify and Amazon. Experts predicted one million cyber job openings worldwide in 2016. This burgeoning market for cyber professionals saw 74 percent growth in the last 5 years with expected growth of 13 percent in San Diego alone between 2016 and 2017. Big players in cybersecurity call San Diego home including SPAWAR, ViaSat, ESET, Northrop Grumman, Sentek Global and General Atomics, to name a few.
EDC's Link2 San Diego program seeks to retain the region's new grads by introducing them to industry leaders and lucrative job opportunities within some of the region's fastest growing sectors. By partnering with local universities, students have a chance to interact one-on-one with top executives they may not otherwise meet. Our fall 2016 Link2 series kicked off with Link2Tech at CSU San Marcos and Cuyamaca College this September. Now, in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness month, we brought Link2Cyber to USD and SDSU.
Link2Cyber at USD was hosted in partnership with the university's new Center for Cyber Security Engineering and Technology (CCSET). The panel was moderated by Winnie Callahan, director of CCSET and featured representatives from the Cyber Center of Excellence, Sharp Healthcare, ESET, City of San Diego and SPAWAR. There were more than 60 college and high school students in attendance.
For Link2Cyber at SDSU, EDC partnered with the university's Department of Computer Science and its Computer Sciences Advisory Board in hosting 60 students and 20 industry representatives for a networking reception and panel discussion. During the panel, representatives from Sony, General Atomics, ViaSat, LP3 Security and Sentek Global spoke to current trends in cybersecurity and provided insight on how students can best prepare for jobs in cyber.
By showcasing the breadth and diversity of San Diego's top industries, EDC is working to retain and attract top tier talent in San Diego.
With the kickoff to the fall semester, EDC is hosting symposiums on university and community college campuses around the region to better connect talent with opportunities within our leading industries.
On September 15, EDC partnered with CSU San Marcos to host the first event of the fall. Link2Tech @ CSUSM hosted 100 students interested in careers in technology. The event included two different high school classes from the 78 Corridor that are on computer science pathways. The program brought together executives from Thermo Fisher Scientific, Welk Resorts, ViaSat and Northrop Grumman, and gave students an opportunity to hear discussion about the diversity of the tech ecosystem in San Diego, hear where the industry is going and interact with speakers to better understand how they can work to have an internship or job with them.
On September 27, EDC hosted the second event of the semester: Link2Tech @ Cuyamaca College. The event featured a panel of representatives from VaultRMS, Dev Bootcamp and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Attended by 100 high school and college students, the conversation focused primarily on personal career selection, entrepreneurship and refining soft skills as an essential part of professional development.
Proceeding both events, students submitted resumes and engaged in one-on-one dialogue with the speakers. Exposing students to career opportunities help retain the region’s top-tier talent.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, San Diego universities conferred more than 40,000 bachelor’s degrees in 2014. While recent data suggests there has been an increase in young graduates staying in San Diego, there is still a perception that entry-level job opportunities and startup culture are less common here than in other tech hubs, despite predictions of software and related tech jobs growing by more than 18 percent in the coming year – with many companies looking to hire recent grads.
Working to develop and retain talent in San Diego, EDC partnered with community organizations including Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP) and Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE), as well as local universities including UC San Diego, San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos to host four Link2 events this quarter – connecting hundreds of students and veterans to industries and businesses growing in the region.
Kicking things off in Q2 with Link2Cyber, EDC introduced nearly 100 students to the region's growing cybersecurity sector. Hosted at CSU San Marcos, students from across the 78 Corridor heard from a panel of industry leaders, including ViaSat, CCOE, San Diego Airport Authority and others to learn about career opportunities in San Diego’s growing cybersecurity industry.
In addition to bringing industry onto campus, EDC and DSDP hosted Link2Downtown which brought more than 100 university students to tour downtown startups and incubators, showcasing the robust tech and startup scene in San Diego’s core. Computer Science students from San Diego State University and UC San Diego toured EvoNexus, The Control Group, Mindtouch and Red Door Interactive.
With emphasis on transitioning service members and veterans, EDC and CCOE hosted Link2Cyber at Navy Region Southwest during Hiring Our Heroes on April 20. The event featured two panel discussions, each with emphasis on technology innovation and integration, entrepreneurship and employment needs, to help acclimate transitioning services members into private sector employment – utilizing their unique skillsets in cybersecurity and more.
Taking it back to campus in May, Link2Design introduced students to design thinking in San Diego – demonstrating the power and value of design as a driver for San Diego’s innovation economy, civic infrastructure and quality of life. Hosted at The Basement on campus at UC San Diego, the event gave more than 35 students access to industry leaders – from ThermoFisher Scientific, Makers Quarter, Grizzly and Feetz – who discussed career opportunities, market trends and more about design in San Diego.
Launched in 2014, the Link2 series is part of EDC’s efforts to retain and grow our region’s talent. By exposing students and veterans to opportunities that exist in growing industries across the region, we are ensuring the growth of San Diego’s diverse talent pool.
Could the 78 Corridor be the next hub for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies? At a roundtable discussion with industry companies, academic institutions and city economic developers this week, EDC posed this question.
With a concentration of more than 650 ICT employers in the five cities along the 78 Corridor - Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, Oceanside, Vista - there is a reason companies are choosing to locate here. Some of those reasons are the quality of talent and engineers, quality of life, and strategic positioning between San Diego and Orange County. If we are able to better capitalize on those reasons and understand the issues and opportunities of doing business along the Corridor (and the broader San Diego region), we can proactively set the framework to accelerate industry growth and clear hurdles.
The discussion identified several key challenges to overcome as well. Key among them: talent accessibility, infrastructure improvements, university/academic relationships and the ability to work together to make the region more attractive for those who might consider working here.
EDC plans to dive deeper into these challenges with our partners, cities and institutions to find creative solutions to turn those challenges into opportunities.
San Diego Regional EDC’s Annual Dinner will be held on June 4, 2015 at Sea World San Diego. Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) is once again serving as the underwriter for this year’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
We sat down with PLNU president, and EDC board member, Dr. Bob Brower to learn more about PLNU and what’s in store for the future - as they work together with the region’s other universities, to help develop San Diego’s next generation of leaders.
1) Tell us about PLNU.
Founded in Pasadena, California in 1902, PLNU moved to Point Loma in 1973 with 1,000 students. Since coming to San Diego, PLNU has experienced unprecedented institutional growth and development alongside the rapidly growing San Diego region. Today we serve over 3,600 students at our residential campus in Point Loma, in regional centers across Southern California and online.
As a liberal arts institution, PLNU is known for being forward-thinking. At PLNU, academics, faith, and community are all vital. Students benefit from this balanced approach to education and leave PLNU prepared to think, act, and contribute to San Diego and the world. During our four decades in San Diego we have become an institution known for excellence in academic preparation, wholeness in personal development, and faithfulness to mission.
2) Ensuring San Diego has a steady stream of talented university grads is essential to our regional competitiveness strategy. What are some of the advantages to having your university located in San Diego?
It is the accessible and collaborative character of our region that provides an unparalleled advantage to our students and compels PLNU to remain invested in San Diego.
Our students benefit from a region that is invested in developing talent to compete on the world stage - while maintaining a distinctly regional focus. Furthermore, the collaborative relationships that exist among San Diego’s robust and diverse higher education and business communities further affirms our respective institutions’ commitment to educational quality for the benefit of our students and the future of San Diego.
Through faculty leadership and community support, our students and alumni actively contribute to regional dialogue and potential solutions on a variety of issues. PLNU’s Fermanian Business and Economic Institute is actively informing local economic policy in the areas of housing affordability, military economic impact and homelessness. The Center for Justice and Reconciliation at PLNU serves as a regional convener of local law enforcement, nonprofit agencies and policy makers in the continued campaign against human trafficking in San Diego. Our Institute for Politics and Public Service, through the Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement, is engaged in the study and practice of civil discourse together with the promotion of the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. School of Nursing faculty and students are invested in the community of City Heights through PLNU’s Health Promotion Center, providing health education, screening and access to care.
3) What do you anticipate for PLNU in the next 5 years?
Steven Mintz, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, explained more than two years ago that “higher education is now in a revolution of change.” American colleges and universities are experiencing the most rapid and dramatic changes in history – PLNU is no exception.
Preparing students as effective leaders in a rapidly changing world is not a new calling for PLNU; it is the foundation of our history and work. For generations, PLNU has developed students deep in conviction and life skills who were academically well prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of their day.
In effort to support this development, PLNU will celebrate the completion of our new science complex this summer. With nearly 40 percent of PLNU’s undergraduate students majoring in one of the STEM-related disciplines, this much-needed facility reflects the quality of our faculty and students, further strengthening the undergraduate research programs which offer students the ability to conduct faculty mentored research. This hallmark of the undergraduate science experience at PLNU produces graduates ready for future doctoral research and equipped to serve in San Diego’s life science and high tech clusters – but it is not unique to the STEM disciplines. As in the past, we will continue to develop critical and ethical thinkers equipped to meet San Diego’s workforce needs in the STEM, humanities and business fields.
PLNU remains focused on strengthening and expanding our distinctive learning community and enhancing our ability to respond proactively to the dynamic environment of higher education and the San Diego region. We continue to develop strategies and programs for degree access beyond the traditional, residential campus. Whether through new hybrid and online programs in advanced studies or adult degree completion, or baccalaureate partnerships with the region’s community colleges, we strive to serve new populations of students, thus allowing PLNU to further meet the workforce development needs in our region and prepare effective leaders who impact San Diego and the world.
4) What do you anticipate for the San Diego region?
As a region, San Diego is not immune to change. Building upon a unique culture of creativity and collaboration, San Diego has - and will continue to - distinguish itself as a leader in innovation, defense, healthcare, and tourism sectors. This necessitates the training and development of human capital in a variety of ways to better meet San Diego’s current and future workforce needs.
This year, Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) celebrates its 25th anniversary. As the only comprehensive public university in North County, they are a major source of talent for San Diego’s dynamic companies. Together with the region’s other universities, they help ensure San Diego’s global competitiveness.
We sat down with Dr. Haynes, president of CSUSM, to hear more about how the university has evolved over the past 25 years and what’s in store for the future.
1) Tell us about CSUSM.
For many years, the University was considered North County’s best-kept secret. Not anymore – the secret is out, Cal State San Marcos is THE university to be at. With 13,000 students and growing, we are nationally considered a large university and we are regionally a high-demand, first-choice institution. CSUSM is the place where dedicated and talented faculty facilitate the success of our students—our region’s future leaders and change-makers. It’s the place where area businesses and organizations partner to foster economic growth and create real-world learning experiences for the sake of stronger communities. And it’s a place with a track record of accomplishments. CSUSM has recently received national recognition for best practices as a model employer, a diverse and military-friendly campus, and a community-engaged institution.
2) Ensuring San Diego has a steady stream of talented university grads is essential to our regional competitiveness strategy. What are some of the advantages to having your university located in San Diego?
CSUSM is the only public comprehensive university in North San Diego County and we take that role very seriously. Beginning in 2006, we began establishing guaranteed admission agreements with 10 regional school districts, to ensure that students are prepared for college and supported throughout their entire educational journey.We are the only university in our state with a program of this magnitude – creating a college-bound culture for some 200,000 students from across our region.
We have also placed a particular focus on serving educationally at-risk students. We have the highest per-capita numbers, within the CSU system, of student populations often excluded or overlooked by higher education, including Veterans, former foster youth and Native Americans.For the last two years, 52 percent of our graduating classes were the first in their families to obtain a four-year degree.
We are very proud that not only do the vast majority of our students come from our region, but that after graduation some 85 percent of them remain here, equipped with profession-ready skills, creative talents, global awareness and homegrown commitment to help power the regional economy. Our sister public universities in the San Diego region have important roles, each of us filing a unique niche. While CSUSM serves all types of students, we have a strong focus on underrepresented and diverse student populations and those who stay after graduation to give back to their communities and contribute to the regional economy.
3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. CSUSM is very engaged with many of them. Pick a San Diego-area company that’s at the top of its game.
One dynamic company and CSUSM corporate partner that comes to mind is ViaSat, a communication company located in Carlsbad.
Because it is always looking with an eye toward the future, ViaSat has been an invaluable CSUSM champion, providing support and expertise across campus to develop our students and provide real-world learning opportunities. Just to name a few examples: They support our on-campus Summer Scholars program, which actively engages undergraduates in hands-on STEM research through a 10-week program; they provide multiple internship opportunities to our undergraduate students; and they sponsor events across campus, such as our recent Super STEM Saturday, a celebration of innovation and science education designed to expose and engage kids of all ages, and their families, to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Several of ViaSat’s senior leaders volunteer their time and expertise on multiple college advisory boards, and ViaSat’s President and COO Rick Baldridge even offered leadership advice and insight into the company and his career path by speaking at “In the Executive’s Chair” – a business course where students hear and learn from regional business leaders. The company’s leadership and input was also invaluable as we developed our new Cybersecurity Professional Master’s Degree.
4) What do you anticipate for the CSUSM in the next 5 years? What do you anticipate for the San Diego region?
For 25 years, there has been great synergy between the University and our region. We have literally grown up together, coming of age as we have helped create, and were fed and nurtured by, regional businesses, organizations, schools, neighborhoods and cities. Moving forward over the next five years and beyond, we will continue to drive forward as a place of community engagement, a place for academic excellence and research, and a place for welcoming and stimulating environments supporting the success of the rich diversity of students we serve.
We know that the San Diego region will continue to have workforce needs in multiple areas, including the life sciences, healthcare and information and communication technologies. To meet these demands we continue to survey key stakeholders in multiple business and nonprofit sectors to learn about their expectations and create innovative degree and certificate programs to fill those needs. Among these are new or planned programs such as our master’s degree program in public health and health information management; stackable certificates, potentially leading to master’s degrees, in international business, business intelligence, tourism and hospitality; and professional master’s degrees in cybersecurity and biotechnology. Efforts like these are part of our commitment to ensure that our students graduate career-ready to serve the needs of our region.
It’s EDC’s job to be a booster of all-things San Diego. Through our work, we get the opportunity to meet budding entrepreneurs and small businesses owners. They differ in the types of enterprises they run and in the people they hire, but they all say one thing: San Diego is a great place to launch a startup or small business. We know that San Diego has many ingredients for entrepreneurs to be successful -- from a top tier talent pool to diverse neighborhoods which help attract the right people -- but we haven’t had a definitive ranking that said it all. Now we do: Today, Forbes ranked San Diego “The Best Place to Launch a Startup in 2014.”
San Diego is the best place to launch a startup in 2014. We’ll give that a moment to sink in.
One of the criteria used to rank location is based on social media use of small businesses in the selected city. As the article writes, “It turns out that Internet-savvy businesses are likely to grow faster than those that don’t…. Web presence indicates adaptability and likelihood to innovate—creating a network effect for communities dedicated to growth and positive change.” There’s no doubt that San Diego has its share of social media-savvy entrepreneurs and small business owners. Recognizing this, EDC has recently brought together a group of these “Digital Ambassadors” to help carry positive messages about the region to the rest of the world. We’re constantly amazed about the powerful things we learn about San Diego through social media every day. Just yesterday, we learned that Google Analytics got its start in San Diego as Urchin.
Here’s a little more about what Forbes had to say about the region:
"Small enterprises ranked in the top five on nearly every category to lift San Diego into the top slot. There is heavy concentration in projected high growth industries, as well as a high likelihood of accepting credit cards and adopting social media. San Diego is home to the fifth-best rated business community in the country. “
Although we have often been known to criticize the methodology of “rankings,” we need to celebrate where we can. And today, we celebrate! San Diego Is, in fact, the best place to launch a startup in 2014.
Now, let’s continue to use our award-winning social media skills to get the word out.